I Do It Because

On Sunday Leslie asked me a question I couldn’t answer due to time constraints, she asked how I got such a heart for serving. I think there are a few reasons. First of all when I was growing up my parents raised me that way. I was always in the habit of giving away all (I mean all) of my possessions to others (not always by choice). If some other child was in need, mom or gramma would take my things and give them away. Be it a toy, or clothing or my most prized possessions such as my transformers wrist watch. Many times my bedroom would be empty and I knew that whatever little I had was being enjoyed by people who had nothing. Not that we had much, we were pretty poor ourselves.

All of my money always went to my family for our expenses and these days to missions work – so serving became natural. Mom would volunteer me many times to help other people, even when I needed help myself.

As I grew older mom would ask me to help people as much as possible. One time we were in the car driving down Goreway drive and a man in a wheelchair at Westwood Mall couldn’t get onto the sidewalk because it wasn’t wheelchair accessible. Everyone was just walking right by him giving him no acknowledgement. I ran across the street and helped him across the road onto the sidewalk. I can’t remember his name but he said he would never forget me. Mom was the one who ordered me to help him, yet I feel that I was the one who got the benefit.

When I got saved I just jumped right into serving. Children’s church, youth, young adults, food bank, outreach, evangelism, missions, general church you name it. Shovelling snow, cleaning the building, errands, volunteering a day here and there, volunteering a day a week, 2 days a week, 4 days a week, and now 5 to 6 days a week.

My mom got saved, sis got saved, different family members got saved. God gave me a heart for ministry, really caring about getting people saved and delivered. I wanted everyone to know Jesus. I still do. When I go to a church, even a new church for the first time, people are usually drawn to talk to me, vent to me and tell me all of their problems. Even just doing my day to day errands it’s not unusual for strangers to chat me up and tell me their life story. (It’s a good thing, just makes me late for almost every appointment I have). But it makes me think God built me this way.

Today my passion burns stronger than ever and I have experience and a little more wisdom on the subject of giving and serving. I’ve given many times when I had nothing to give. I’ve given out of my rent money, food money, vacation money. I’ve given more than I had. I’ve borrowed to give. I’ve given of my time, my energy, sometimes of my sanity. I’m always keeping my ears open to see if someone needs help and I always think “maybe I can do something.” Of course sometimes all I can do is offer my prayers and encouragement.

It’s still a difficult question to answer though – how did I get such a heart for service. I do it because it makes me feel good. I do it because God says it’s the right thing to do. I do it because it’s natural for me to do. I do it because I can’t help but to not do it. I do it because it makes me feel like I’m showing love to God. I do it to show God that His work in me is not for nothing.

Everyone Can Give Birth

You know that feeling when you are about to give birth spiritually to something and you are so excited, frustrated, anticipating, anxious and happy and sad all at the same time? That’s where I am right now. I have the biggest business project I’ve ever done in my life sitting in front of me, and I’m trying my best to do everything at once. If it was all I had on my plate, that would be fine, I could focus, but I have so many other things going on. Time for a few more pushes.

$1 Million Cash On My Coffee Table But I Rather Have Jesus

Overall, I didn’t make a profit this year. One business made money but the other lost, one investment went up and the other went down. When everything is all said and done, I lost money. I won’t know how much until an accountant preps my books but I’m sure it’s at least 5 figures. I worked like a dog. I worked all day. I took only a few days off. I pushed and pushed but it just seems like things didn’t work out. I’m exhausted.

Some of my notable 2006 expenses:
– $4,054 food
– $3,259 travel
– $3,086 banking
– $5,078 phone

Add that all up, multiply by 10 and I gave slightly more than that to outreach, evangelism, missions and new churches this year. Unfortunately I didn’t save anything, and I have a bad feeling about that.

So lets end this on a super happy note.

As I started driving out to Guelph for Dana’s wedding, it dawned on me again how fast life flies by. I met Dana online in 2002. We’ve become the best of online friends since then and met in real life in 2006. We only spent a little bit of time together in person, but hundreds of hours chatting online.

Dana’s dad and mom are pastors and missionaries. They’ve been all over the world saving lives. Their family and friends are missionaries as well. This kind of thing means the world to me. Dana grew up on the mission field and it’s molded who she is today.

The long drive to her city was a bit tiring for me, and I’ve done the drive many times to visit my sister at school. When I got to the church my jaw dropped, partially because from the outside it looked like it was sinking into the ground, partially because it looked like it was 1,000 years old. It was covered in beautiful wood and stone.

I met J for the very first time but I heard about him from Dana a lot. J’s family are also missionaries and J has been all over, especially Indonesia where he tells me his hobbies included swinging from vines in the jungle like Tarzan. I setup my camcorder and camera equipment and recorded the short and beautiful wedding ceremony. After, I gave Dana and J their hugs and went about my life for a few hours while the professional photographer took photos.

The reception was in a beautiful updated community centre. When I got to the reception we did more videotaping, we ate the most delicious foods from all over the world (seems like almost everyone was a missionary so they knew about all the different kinds of foods from all the different cultures). It wasn’t catered, people from all over the world cooked food. I had some delicious basmati rice with red curry. Most of the people there were white but collectively they had done church ministry work everywhere worldwide. The food was beyond amazing. The fact that a white person made curry better than brown people made me think.

I walked around and talked to men and women, children and adults, young and old. Many people were simply on break from a 2 year mission trip. Some were heading back to the airport in a few days to start a new mission trip or continue one. One young man told me he won’t be going into missions. “I’m going into business, someone has to stay here and pay for these missionaries to go do what they do, someone has to provide the money, it doesn’t grow on trees you know.” hahahaha! A man after my own heart. He was currently in business school and everyone in his family were full time missionaries. I had a good conversation with him. I talked to teen girls who weren’t into the latest pop music or celebrities but instead talked endlessly about 3rd world villages being transformed by the salvation message of Jesus. Can we trade some of these teens with our spoiled brat teens?

After the reception was over, I helped pack away the reception hall as is my custom, and to my shock all of the young people helped as well – without being asked. They were picking up and packing the folding tables themselves and doing it more efficiently than me. I was amazed and remembered again that missionaries have a lot to teach us. These kids aren’t concerned with what they can get for Christmas, but what they can give. I work with teens everyday and I’ve been trying and trying to teach them these values.

I said my farewells to everyone after it started getting late and I drove home that night in amazement of God. Even right now as I type this, I’m just floored. All those missionaries, in one room at the same time. If we could get them to stay in one city of Canada for 2 years they would transform the city. It’s one reason I’m happy to go overboard funding missions work.

On a silly note, while at the reception I was also honored to be the only colored person there. Everyone was white except for me. That is until 4 of Dana’s friends from school showed up late who were brown and black. After everything was finished I sat down with them and we all laughed about how cool it is to be a minority sometimes, especially when everyone else is so nice.

You know what, I can’t stop talking or thinking about this. I met over 100 amazing missionaries, yes I counted over 100 and talked to almost every one of them. I walked around the room shaking peoples hands and introducing myself. Dana’s whole family are missionaries for life and so are J’s. People of all ages, all educations, all kinds of skill sets, who have collectively been to almost every country in the world representing Jesus. Countries I’ve never even heard of! It was one of the most amazing experience for me to be in their presence.

Let me explain this better:

I was 17 years old. Summer. It was approaching evening. I had a home office packed with regular customers. The doorbell rang. 2 large black men came inside. They didn’t say a word. Both were carrying a Price Chopper grocery bag in each hand. 4 bags in total. They emptied the bags in front of me, on my fake wood coffee table.

$100 and $50 bills, Canadian, American and Euro currency. I stacked that money into separate piles of $30,000 each. It was so much I had to call my friend Steve to help. Steve was in the other room (my home office) dealing with some of our clients. When he saw the pile of money he was literally speechless. I mean literally. I thought he was going to faint. He stuttered a few words and then started counting. Steve’s been my buddy since grade 3.

We made over 30 piles, and counted almost $1 Million in cash. We sat there, looking at the money like it was a super hot girl. After we finished doing that, we packed the money neatly in a suitcase and rolled it over to the bank. The lady at the bank snapped at me saying “this line is for business only.” When we opened the suitcase a bit to show her, her mouth opened up so big I thought I could fit my head inside. Because of the sum of money some paperwork had to be done to make sure everything was in order, then we deposited the money just like we were depositing a paycheck for $400. Most of the money was then wired to Germany. When I got back home I logged into my dial up internet access, using my Cyrix 686 with 32mb of RAM and sent an email to a German company: “Hi, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Asif Zamir, and I’ve just wired you $XXX,XXX.XX Please send the shipping container(s) to this shipping port and address…”

I should take a moment to mention the following:
– the whole thing was completely legitimate and fully legal
– nothing illegal was going on
– i never have that kind of cash in my home
– the cash wasn’t mine
– the shipping containers were filled with food-commodities going to a developing country to be sold at retail.
– cash was being used because the business owners involved were used to dealing with only cash. Later on they switched to more updated payment methods.
– it only sounds very shady when I talk about it

Needless to say, that was an interesting day for me, a 17 year old boy. But this day, this wedding of my great friend Dana and the reception where I met and talked to and prayed with 100 missionaries, and having some of them pray over me – and hearing about hundreds of thousands of souls being won for Jesus, about communities being changed and lives being completely healed, about the expansion of the faith and hundreds of new church plants doing well – this is truly more amazing to me than all the money in the world.

Miscellaneous Happenings

My stress is through the roof. I think I’ve been set back about 12 months behind schedule. Some clients are paying, others aren’t. The camera store is 50/50. My investments are STUCK. This is very frustrating for me.

Sis has moved home after her first year of school and for 4 months she’ll be working at a call center. It’s nice to see her in her first professional job and making money, managing money, etc. Last Sunday night we had dinner at moms and watched King Kong. Half way through we went and played squash, then did some weights, then did some cardio machines. I’m still sore! LOL.

Old things can lead to new things, new things can lead to old things

In Guyana, I slept on a real bed with my grandmother. Her house cost her $500 USD cash back in the 50’s and is still standing strong today. Maybe some Canadian construction companies can learn a thing or two? When we moved to Canada, I slept on the floor for the first few years. I had a sponge to sleep on and it was perfectly fine. When I turned 7 years old I got my first bed. I gave that bed away a while back, and I’m now sleeping on the floor again which is very enjoyable for me.

My friends call me a minimalist. I like to give away my things and have the least amount of possessions as humanly possible. I don’t even like having multiple pens.

I’m at the gym 5 days a week even in the winter. I walked through like a foot of snow and ice cold wind to get to the gym, which has been moved to the other side of town while renovations are happening at the main location. One of the long time trainers was there and I asked her for some advise, she complimented my little muscles. Yes, I will be extending my membership!

I helped Mason with his job hunting, writing his resume and handing it out with him in many places. He got a job at Woodbine Centre, specifically he helps a woman’s lingerie / underwear department. He’s as happy as can be and all I hear from him is about how great his job is. He text messages me to tell me about how happy he is to be walking to his job (he even goes early), he texts me during breaks to tell me about his adventures, he even stays late after work. He goes on and on about the beautiful women he helps all day and night. I’ve never heard anyone speak so happily about their job. I haven’t achieved this yet. Most people haven’t. Most people aren’t super excited to go to work, most don’t stay late on purpose.

I visited him there, well, I went there to spy on him, and the dude was helping women choose lingerie with a huge smile on his face. I watched him smile for like a good 10 minutes straight. I was laughing because I thought it was hilarious, and I was at awe at how this young man had reached such a great level of happiness so fast. I’ve known him about 7 years and never seen him smile so much. Most of us will never reach that level of happiness at a job, or at anything, ever.

So the consulting project I’m working on right now will provide me with an income for 2 years. Not a big income, but enough to pay my rent, car, gas, phone, insurance, etc and several decent sized missions projects. I’m also going to try to do a big project along side this one and see if I can get a small bank to like my idea. Problem is it won’t actually pay me for like 4 more months which is making things really tight around here. Another risk is that I won’t get paid at all, this has happened several times and leads to great discouragement. Nobodies fault, that’s just the way it is. I’ve consulted for companies that have gone under part way though, and I didn’t find out till I visited the office to see the eviction notice on the door. Other times I’ll find out that the company I’m working with / for has been purchased by another company and all the previous management fired or replaced – and they have no idea who I am. And yes once in while things will work out better than expected and I’ll do better than expected and get paid more than expected.

I’m still in the beginning stages of this project which involves making a lot of phone calls, I’m on the phone almost all day doing my research, which is annoying but still better than traveling. My little suitcase is gathering dust, I like that. Maybe one day soon I can give it away to.

Most of my friends have internet access now. So we all chat online after work. It’s so different. No waiting weeks or even months for letters to arrive in the mail from my missionary friends, or phone calls at hours with static connections. They are basically in countries all over the world which makes communication difficult. Pretty much all of them have some form of internet access now. Time zones aren’t even such a bother anymore. One of my friends doing missions in the Ukraine got spat on, simply because she was there and the person didn’t like Christians. I’m currently trying to gain steam on an Orphanage in the Ukraine, at the rate I’m going this project will be done, realistically by the year 2015. I started it in 2001. It breaks my heart but it’s the best I can do. I hate that so much but it’s out of my hands. Some projects move fast, some move slow.

I hate summer

If you’re reading this and you know me, then you know that I’m a workaholic. I’ve been battling this for years. As soon as the sun rises, I like to be up and working. As soon as the sun sets, I finish up for the day. In the summer the days are long, and so I work as long as it’s bright outside. This leads to burnout, and so I’ve begun to hate summer. I’ve actually ruined relationships simply because I’ve been too busy to care about anything else. When I was younger this problem was worst, I would actually skip occasional nights of sleep – I mean entire nights, just so I could work more and get ahead. I don’t have that kind of energy anymore so I do sleep a full night for the most part.

Over the last few years I’ve gotten really involved in digging fresh water wells in third world countries and the costs are so variable. In one place a well can cost $2,500 because you don’t have to dig very deep, in other places $300,000 or more depending on the engineering and machinery involved. I used to have a goal of like 10,000 fresh water wells but when I realized how impossible that number was I lowered it to like 1,000 and I think I’ll just lower this to like 100 or less because it’s such an uphill struggle. If it was the only thing in my life I could put more energy into it, but as I’m typing this, I’m also holding a baby and tonight we are going to help someone move.

I really hate summer.

Broken wieners

When I was 15 I worked a construction job that was way outside of my skill set. I was a skinny weakling barely able to lift the tools we used on the job site. But I gave it my all and did a great job, however I was eventually fired for messing up an important project. If you ever go over to 255 Queen Street East in Brampton, you’ll see a building with various stores (as of the time of this writing). I used a machine called a Flaky Jake to pull up the old floors, I mixed the flooring solution for the new cement floors, and I helped to pour and level the new floors. On the outside, I held up the exterior wall material while another person attached it. At the factory in Etobicoke I built hundreds of the high quality wall materials. And I built (by hand) the crown molding that sits atop the exterior walls. Actually that’s why I got fired, I forgot to add sand into the mixture for the molding, and when the guy went to attach it, it crumbled. This happened on a Friday night and we all had to stay late and do it all over. It was for the best, I couldn’t pull my weight at this job consistently enough and this held everyone else back.

As far as I can remember this was about 12 hours per day, Monday through Friday and I was earning around $9 an hour which was a fortune to me at the time.

Any way during lunch at this job I would sit on the steps outside with my small cooler, eating my boiled eggs, peanut butter sandwiches, etc, and there was a hot dog vendor who worked nearby, who would talk to me when there was no lineup. Once in a while if I had enough money I would buy a hotdog but that was rare, because by this time in life most or all of my money would go into family expenses. He (the vendor) told me I should marry as soon as possible, because – as he said it, wieners don’t work forever, and if you wait till your old to get married then your wiener might not work by that time and you won’t have a happy marriage. He made it very clear to me that my own wiener will one day not work. He made this point every time I saw him. I’m not kidding! Now at the time I couldn’t imagine this ever happening since I was a teen and suffered the opposite problem.

Fast forward to today in 2002, close to Valentine Day I woke in a cold sweat thinking about this very early in the morning, and figured I need to get married soon just in case my wiener really does stop working one day. My friend Nathan and I listed the different girls at church I could marry and finally decided on one. It wasn’t easy because initially we had some differing opinions. I ordered the nicest bouquet of flowers I could afford and sent them off to her to break the ice. She teaches a children Sunday school class and we are both heavily involved in the lives of children and missions work so it should be a good match. And now to play the waiting game :)

And in other news, I’m watching a movie on video tape or dvd almost every day after work, this is a nice new thing for me, as usually I work until it’s time to sleep. What with all the children I don’t have a choice but to rest. Hopefully I can get some time to watch one of my favorites soon: Planet of the Apes.

I’m so busy I can’t keep up with anything anymore

I’m so busy I can’t keep up with life. Wake up, push food down my throat so I can get some nutrition, hurry off to work for 9, get off at 430, hurry to school, get off at 8, hurry over to church, get home by 10pm, and this 6 days a week.

El Shaddai

“El Shaddai” by Amy Grant

El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai [means “God Almighty, God Almighty”]
El-Elyon na Adonai [means “God in the highest, Oh, Lord”]
Age to age, You’re still the same
By the power of the name.
El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai
Erkamka na Adonai [means “We will love You, Oh, Lord”]
We will praise and lift You high

Through Your love
And through the ram,
You saved the son
Of Abraham.
Through the power
Of Your hand,
Turned the sea
Into dry land.
To the outcast
On her knees,
You were the God
Who really sees.
And by Your might,
You set Your children free.

Through the years,
You made it clear,
That the time of Christ
Was near,
Though the people
Couldn’t see
What Messiah ought to be.
Though Your Word
Contained the plan,
They just could not understand,
Your most awesome work was done
Though the frailty of Your son.


I was introduced to this song in 1999 while driving to a bookstore around midnight (yes, I’m that kind of book fanatic). The song was made famous by Amy Grant. Read the words carefully and meditate on them. God is awesome, and worthy of your praise and respect. The atheists will learn this the hard way one day — they spend all of their waking time trying to prove that God doesn’t exist. As an example, I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny, and guess how much time I spend arguing against him? Zero. An Atheist claims they don’t believe in God, yet can’t keep quiet about Him.

It seems like time flies by so fast during my leisure time. I really need to get good night’s sleep tonight so I can operate at full energy tomorrow. Last night I tossed and turned in bed, and I couldn’t sleep properly so I’ve been tired all day long.

Yesterday a man walked into my food bank after closing. He had his little son with him. Tears were frozen on his face because he had walked a good 40 minutes in the blistering -36c cold, and would have to walk back home with his son and heavy food. I will always remember his face like it was a stunning National Geographic photo. His son was very small, maybe 7 years old, and I can only imagine the hardened man he will become because of his circumstances as a youth. He reminded me of myself when I was young. Never enough food, never enough money, and always a problem. Teachers yelling at me because my homework wasn’t done, and I could barely hear the lecture because my stomach was growling so loudly.

He tried several times to wipe his tears away with his scarf, but they were completely frozen. His voice was cracked and obviously very sad. I gave him the best box of food I could, stuffing it with as many extras as possible, and invited him and his son to church.

I’ll work harder towards building up the food bank supplies so we have more to give. We run out almost every week these days, especially in the winter, and people are complaining that I give out too much spaghetti — believe me, I agree.

It breaks my heart to see these situations. Running a food bank is more than giving out food, it’s about caring for people, and giving out hope. But listen, most of the time their worst problem isn’t a lack of food; these people are telling me that their biggest problem is a broken spirit. If you have to walk an hour to get food, walk an hour back home, when you don’t have money for even a bus fare, what do you do? I’ve been there so many times.

I have to stop reading the news. Today at the office I read on Yahoo News about the Christians that are fleeing Indonesia right now because people of another religion have executed war against them. They have already burned down 10 churches today. I read articles about the young girls that are raped and then thrown into fires because they converted to Christianity, yet this other religion claims they are a religion of peace – when do we get to see some of that peace?

I read articles about torment and great persecution and great atrocities against our missionaries, our own brothers and sisters in Christ. I know so many missionaries personally in Indonesia that this scares the crap out of me. All of them are completely peaceful and harmless people who are there building schools and hospitals, not for other Christians, but for same religion that are killing us off! These people hate us but they love our money. Even myself personally, since I converted to Jesus in 1997, have been endlessly harassed here in Mississauga so many times. I’ve been punched, mocked, threatened with death. Yes, in the great city of Mississauga by random “peaceful” you-know-who’s, who demand I convert back or suffer. Sorry sir, but you are in Canada now, and I’ll gladly buy you a ticket back to the Middle East where you belong.

When I became a Christian in 1997, my own family kicked me out, and I didn’t get to visit with them or see them for about 2 full years. I took every Sunday to fast and pray, and one by one, they’ve been giving their life to Christ since then. I’m still known as Asif Zamir the trouble maker because of what I’ve done. Leading people to Jesus is a crime where I’m from.

At the same time, churches and Christians need to stop being so annoying and petty and stupid and start working together and stop competing against each other. Stop all the nonsense, and start doing what Jesus commanded us to do. Ugh, I’m stressed. I’m going to sleep.

-Asif Zamir